Novel Therapeutic for Influenza-Induced Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

A parenteral administration of a naturally occurring chemical used to treat influenza­-induced hypoxemia, lung dysfunction, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This treatment could also be potentially useful in treating ARDS from other causes.

The Need

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a clinical syndrome characterized by impaired alveolar gas exchange, a symptom that leads to a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream. This lack of oxygen to vital organs can lead to organ failure and results in a high possibility of patient death. The influenza virus has the potential to cause this respiratory distress due to the method through which the virus attacks the alveolar epithelial cells in the lungs. The damage to these cells in influenza patients is often accompanied by problems in pulmonary surfactant, a fluid that is essential to normal lung function. Direct administration of artificial surfactant (e.g., Survanta) into the lungs is highly effective in treating neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, but recent trials of surfactant replacement therapy in ARDS patients were inconclusive or showed no benefit. Therefore, it is necessary to find a technique that improves synthesis of healthy surfactant in order to promote improved lung function and boost influenza survival rates.

There is currently no specific therapy for ARDS; most patients are just treated in the ICU with noninvasive ventilation or mechanical ventilation, and conservative fluid management. There is a great need for new treatments that can prevent, retard, or manage progression of severe influenza to ARDS.

The Technology

Ohio State University researchers led by Dr. Ian Davis have developed a therapeutic that successfully aids in the development of pulmonary surfactant. By parenterally administering a dose of an already-used and regulated nutritional supplement, it could be possible to bypass the block that ARDS patients experience in producing healthy lung fluid. This therapy would enhance the production of precursors that are necessary for the generation of said lung fluid, thereby promoting improved lung function and increasing influenza survival rates. Because similar symptoms have been described for ARDS caused by other afflictions, this therapy could have more general application, as well.

Preliminary data using a well-established mouse model of influenza-induced ARDS indicates that this treatment reduces post-infection weight loss, hypoxemia, bradycardia, pulmonary edema, and decreases static lung compliance, all of which indicate ARDS attenuation.

Commercial Applications

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Influenza treatment
  • Respiratory/ Pulmonary Therapies

Benefits/ Advantages

  • Water-soluble (simple to administer parenterally)
  • Known to be safe in patients, as it is marketed as a nutritional supplement
  • Anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects
  • Stimulates ventilation
  • Avoids issues associated with intrapulmonary drug administration


Patent # Title Country
10874684 Liponucleotide-Based Therapy for ARDS United States of America

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